Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Little Miscommunication

This is going to be a random post, but I thought I'd let y'all in on a little secret.  Apparently, I don't always pronounce words correctly.  They often sound similar to how they're supposed to, but they have my own little slant.  I'm not the only one who pronounces the words this way, but people have commented on it before.  Anyway, I thought I'd share a list of some problem words.

Milk: Correct pronunciation: mIlk (Just as it looks).  My pronunciation: mElk.  Like Elk with an m.

Vanilla: Correct pronunciation: vah nIl lah.  My pronunciation: vah nEl lah.  Yeah pretty much the same issue as milk.

Train (really anything that begins with "tr."): Correct pronunciation: T-Rain.  You should hear a very distinct "t" followed by an "r."  My pronunciation: Chrain.  I tend to slur the t and r together to get a "ch" sound.  This drove my voice teacher nuts, and it was very frustrating for me because I didn't understand what I was doing wrong.

Crayon: I say that crayon should rhyme with crown.  This is the correct pronunciation.  I refuse to say otherwise, because my husband will never let me live that one down.  Some less-informed people prefer to say cray-on, while some others tend to pronounce this word as cray-an (almost like drawing out the cran in cranberry).  I still say my way is the right way.

Horror / Orange: My "mispronunciation" here is really just a symptom of being raised in the south.  It's not really a mispronunciation, but rather a different pronunciation from that of my husband who was raised in MN.  His pronunciation: Hor-ror / ORange (like saying "or" with some letters attached).  My pronunciation: Har-rer / Arange.  I open the o and relax it a little.  Hans and his roommate, Dan, used to make fun of me when I said I wanted to see a horror movie.  They'd ask which pirate comedy I wanted to see since I seemed to like Har-Arghs so much.  Jerks!  :P

Of course, there are plenty of other words that I say differently from the hubby, and these are generally due to cultural differences.  Although, the only one I really seem to have trouble with still in nightmare.  As a kid, I thought the word was nightmirror.  While I know that's not right any more, I sometimes stumble over the word.  Ah, youth!

So, there you have it.  Some funny miscommunications!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Better Than I'd Hoped For

I had my second run of the week today, and it was good.  Really good.  Much-better-than-expected good. 

When I left the house I told Hans that I'd be gone for about 30 minutes.  My plan was simple.  I'd do a brief 5 minute warm up, jog for about 15 minutes, turn around, jog back home.  Total time should have been 30-40 minutes.  All started as planned.  I finished my warm up and started my jog.  About twelve blocks later (15 minutes) later I reached my turn around point.

I didn't really want to turn around, though.  I wanted to head back home, but I didn't want to bore myself with the exact same route that I just ran.  So, I decided to turn right and run back home going through a different neighborhood.  It would have added about one more block to my total route.

When I reached the point for me to turn into the neighborhood, though, I just wanted to keep going.  Same with the next turn and the next.  It was at this point that I had a decision to make.  I could turn around and head home, or I could set my sights on the stop light up ahead and run to there.  I felt good, so I kept on going.

When I reached the stop light, it wouldn't have made much sense for me to turn around, so I kept on going.  I figured if I got really tired, I could stop running and start my cool down early.  Oh, but I really wanted to keep going. 

Once I hit the 4 km mark, I figured I might as well just run a full 5k.  Then I would stop.  When I reached the 5k mark, though I only had a few more blocks until I'd come full circle, so I decided to keep going.  Finally, 5.76 km later (3.58 mi), it was officially time for my cool down, and I was ready for it, so I slowed to a walk until I got home.

Here's the thing, considering the fact I've never been much of an athlete, and running was never my strong suit (I had to take a course just to reach a 5k distance), I thought it would take a few weeks for me to be able to run a 5k again.  I figured I would have to really build back my endurance.  I was shocked that I was only a kilometer short of where I had been.  Of course, my pace was slower (about 30 seconds slower per kilometer) than it had been, and that will take some time to come back, but I'm not as worried about that.  I'm just happy that I haven't lost it entirely. 

It just goes to show you can do whatever you put your mind to.  I've always wanted to be a runner, so I started to run.  When the doctor said I should hold off on running for a while, I decided to swim.  Now I'm doing both, and I'm loving it.

Oh, and the biggest benefit of running over swimming?  Cody can come along, and he's very, very tired.  Hurray!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Doggy Doors: The Good And The Bad

Have you ever looked at something and thought, "What a great idea!  I want one!" but upon further consideration realize what a bad idea this thing actually is?  That's kind of how I feel about doggy doors.

Of course, there are a lot of good things about doggy doors.  They're a God-send for people who work through the day and can't let their dogs out.  They're wonderful for people whose dogs like to go out in the middle of the night.  And they're really great for people with a lot of dogs who don't want to get up 15 times a day.

However, there are a lot of issues with them.  Assuming that you've installed the door correctly, and you don't have to worry about other creatures wandering into your house, there are three main issues I have with doggy doors.  1) They allow your dog to self reward.  2) They don't help with house breaking  3) You lose all sight of your dog's bowel movements.  Let me explain.

They Allow Your Dog to Self Reward
This may sound a bit odd, but I like a lot of control in my house.  There isn't necessarily a ton of order.  Dogs play, there's hair everywhere, and there's almost always someone barking (I love it!).  However, there is a lot of control.  All the dogs know that they have to come to either me or Hans if they want anything, and this includes going outside.  Outside time is something they earn for good behavior.  Of course, they get to go out for potty time too, but even then I'm opening the door for them.

They Don't Help With House Breaking
When someone tells me their dog just won't learn to use the potty outside, there is one question I ask.  Does he not understand to go outside, or are his signals that he needs to go outside not clear enough for you to pick up on?  In most cases, the problem is that the owner doesn't realize the dog is asking to go out.  The problem with doggy doors is that the dog never has to learn how to ask to go out.  On top of that, the owner is never learning how to read the dog.  This really isn't a problem unless you ever want to travel with or have someone else watch your dog.  Imagine you're in a hotel room.  Your dog has to go out, but has no idea how to ask, so he just stands by the door.  You have no idea why he's standing by the door, and you figure he's just hearing and listening to the sounds of people passing.  Eventually your dog will not be able to hold it anymore and will pee all over the carpet.  Now imagine that instead of being in a hotel, you're in your in-laws house.  Man, don't you feel awful?!

You Lose Sight of Your Dog's Bowel Movements
When your dog is sick, there are a few things the vet might ask.  How much has your dog eaten?  Is he drinking water?  Has he used the bathroom?  How did his stool look? 

Can you answer all of these questions?  You might (if you're lucky) be able to say you know he went outside, but can you answer whether he pooped at all.  Can you say if it was normal?  What color was the poop?  Was there anything really unusual?  Have you noticed worms? 

I know it's all pretty gross to think about, but it's all really important when your dog is sick, and if something is that important, I want to have the answers.  A doggy door doesn't really encourage me to do that.

Now then, I'm not completely against doggy doors, and I think they're great for some people.  I do think there's a right way and a wrong way to use them.  I don't think they should be open for your dog to go in and out all day and night.  Some boundaries should be set. 

Ideally, a doggy door would only be open when you're not home.  It would be there so your dog could relieve himself during the long work day.  It would also allow your dog to soak up some sun on the really pretty days  (keep in mind, though, this also means your dog could track in mud on the rainy days).  Once you got home, though, the doggy door would close.  It would stay closed the rest of the night, and you would be the one letting your dog in and out.

This way, you have the best of both worlds.  Your dog could have some freedom, and you wouldn't have to worry, but you'd also be able to exert some control, and you'd be able to answer all those important questions for your vet.

Basically, all I'm saying, is really think hard about the doggy door thing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Joy of Running

Last week, I got the OK to start running again.  Hurray!!!!!  I wanted to finish out the week with swimming, though, and so I figured I'd take the weekend off and start running again on Monday.  However, ever since I got the OK to run again, I've wanted to head out with Cody.

I waited and waited, but this morning I couldn't take it anymore.  I laced up my sneakers, threw on a sweatshirt, leashed up Cody, and I was off. 

We hadn't gone far, maybe 1.5 km, when I heard a man yelling.  Since I live in the city, this isn't that big of a deal, so I planned on ignoring him.  Still, though I couldn't help but look over, and when I did, I saw a small Lhasa Apso, leash attached, standing on the corner.  When I actually listened to what the man was saying I heard, "Can you grab that dog?!"  Being the dog trainer that I am, of course I was going to help, but as soon as I turned towards the dog he started running way.  I thought maybe Cody would slow him down, so I released Cody from his heel, but the dog was nervous and ran faster (luckily into a soccer field and not the road).  Well, I did what any dog lover would do.  I stopped my watch, and I headed off to the soccer field to try to corral this dog. 

He was nervous, and I knew I didn't want to chase him, but I also didn't want to lose sight of him, and I certainly didn't want him to run into the road.  So, I stayed a fair distance behind him, and always kept him in sight.  We circled the soccer field twice, and even stopped traffic briefly, when I started to notice two things.  1) This little Lhasa, with short little legs, was slowing down considerably.  He was tiring out.  2) He was showing a little more interest in Cody.  Of course, this is probably because Cody was becoming less interested in him, but I decided to use both to my advantage.

I released Cody from his heel again, and watched to see if the Lhasa would interact all.  He didn't really interact, but he was distracted by Cody.  He started to hesitantly approach, but was being very cautious.  While this little guy was looking at Cody, I tried to creep up on him.  I was a few yards away when he noticed me, and he took off.  However, since he was fairly tired, the speed at which he took off was not very fast.  I thought, "If I can just run fast enough, I can step on his leash."  So, I sprinted, I caught up with him, and I put my foot out.  The next thing I knew, I had caught this dog.

Here's the best part:  This dog had only been with his owners for a day and a half.  They had gotten him from a guy who was on his way to take him to the pound.  He had been under-socialized and under-loved for quite some time.  In fact, it's a miracle he stayed in the field that he did.  He could have easily started running and not stopped for quite some time.

One of my favorite parts was when the dog's mom said to her husband, "Did you see how she caught him?  She's a runner and she ran so fast she was able to grab his leash!"  It made me feel awesome!

I am so grateful that I decided to go out on a run.  I am so grateful that Cody was with me.  I am so grateful I was able to help.

Oh, and as for Cody and his participation, he got lots of love, he did get to meet the other dog, AND he got a bit of ham from the dog's owner.

All in all, it ended up being a great day!

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Me

Well, I've been tagged in a post!  Apparently, there's this fun little get-to-know-you game going around, a running friend of mine, Kristie, tagged me.  Anyway, I thought I'd go ahead and join in!  Here goes!

There are six rules.
1. Post these rules.
2. Post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post (i.e., Kristie's for me).
4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you've tagged them.
6. No saying, "If you are reading this, you're tagged."

11 random things about me
1) I swam from 2nd grade through 7th grade both summers and winters, but I quit after my winter coaches (the better coaches) moved to Hawaii.
2) I love to read historical fiction.  More importantly, if there's something interesting in a historical fiction book, I'll often go online and fact check.
3) I did not grow up on a farm, but I did have at one time 6 ducks, 5 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 horses.
4) I love riding horses, but I hate riding English.  Western is the way to go (there's no posting).
5) My favorite line in a movie ever is from Lilo & Stitch. It goes, "This is my family.  It is little and broken, but is good.  Yeah.  Is good."  It describes how I feel about my family.
6) I live in house with very little land, but I am currently living with 6 dogs and 2 cats.
7) I'd love to own chickens simply because I want fresh eggs.
8) I have traveled to 7 different countries and many different states.  I've been to Mexico, Canada, Aruba, Barbados, China, Japan, and Korea.
9) My ultimate goal is to travel to (and possibly live in) Ukraine.  I have family I want to meet.
10) I only know a few words in Ukrainian: Hello, Lord have Mercy, To You Oh Lord, Holy, holy, holy, I love you, and Kiss my a** you stupid monkey!  That last one doesn't quite fit.
11) I really want to be an awesome athlete.  While it's not a concrete goal, I think it would be cool to do an Ironman.

Kristie's Questions for me
 1. Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and what are they're names?  Yes.  I have two dogs, Cody and Lollie.  And I have two cats, Stultae and Mo.  On top of that, I foster dogs, so currently there are four additional dogs in the house: Ellwood, Katrina, Tina, and Merlin.
2. What is your favorite dessert of all time?  This one's really hard.  I'll pretty much go for anything chocolate, although I prefer for it to be warm.
3. Are you an Oxford Comma user? Yes!
4. What's the best field trip you ever went on? Hmm, I'm not sure if it's the best, but my most memorable field trip was a time when my elementary school class went to the orchestra.  I was very impressed by my teacher's description of the conductor, and all of his duties.
5. If you had a time machine and could travel to any time in history, what would it be? Tudor age England
6. Who is the most influential teacher you ever had? Why? Honestly, there are two.  My first was my first grade teacher, Mrs. Daily.  I was scared of leaving kindergarten, and she was so sweet and wonderful.  I adored her.  The second was my high school choir director, Ms. Fusco.  She always made sure I was well-prepared for whatever I wanted to do.  She even talked me through a few disastrous events in college.  I'm no longer working in music, so we don't chat as much, but she's always quite supportive.
7. What is your favorite makeup product? I don't wear much make up, but I kind of love all MAC products.
8. What's better? Clean sheets or new pillows? Clean sheets.
9. What is your favorite poem? The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
10. What is your secret to happiness? Dog kisses! ( I also really enjoy snuggling with the kitties).
11. What's your favorite movie of all time? I don't really have one, but I do enjoy a good Audrey Tatou film.

My questions for the friends I tag
1) Have you ever dyed your hair?
2) Do you prefer dogs, cats, or some other creature?
3) Did you participate in a sport in college?  If so, what sport?
4) What is your favorite hobby?
5) Where is the most memorable place you've ever been?
6) What is the one physical trait you like most about yourself?
7) What is your biggest pet peeve?
8) What is your favorite thing to do for exercise?
9) Have you ever broken a bone?  If so, where?
10) What is the worst job you've ever had?
11) If you could do anything in the world, just once, what would it be?

I'm tagging Liz, Emily, Maleia, and Janine.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why I Gave Up Facebook

In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I'm giving up Facebook and Pinterest for Lent.  This means I'm giving up a serious addiction for 6 weeks.  For anyone who doesn't understand the point of giving things up for Lent, let me explain. 

Lent is a time of solemn reflection.  It is a time of preparation.  It is a time where we try to cleanse ourselves (mind, body, and soul) in preparation for the coming of Christ.  It begins with Ash Wednesday and these very solemn reminders: Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.  Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel.  Repent and hear the good news!  During this time, we give up things that are dear to us, so we may better ourselves.

People used to fast during Lent.  Actually, I always thought this was similar to the fasting during Ramadan, where people of faith would give up eating, drinking, smoking, and sex so as to be closer to God.  These sacrifices are to teach us about patience, spirituality, and humility.  Sacrificing other things, such as chocolate, sweets, Facebook, etc, are all considered part of the fast.  It is a sacrifice to bring us closer to God and to better ourselves.  Now a days, some people add things to their lives, such as volunteer work, or charitable donations to better themselves.  Either way is acceptable, and ideally we'll do both.

When I was younger, I didn't quite understand that.  I'd give up sweets or soda or chocolate for all the wrong reasons (I wanted to lose weight).  Admittedly, sometimes it had a great outcome.  For example, I still don't drink much soda.  Once I gave it up, I never really wanted to go back to it.  Still, though, I wasn't getting the point of giving up something for Lent.

It's different now, though.  This year especially, I want to better myself.  I knew I was spending way to much time on the computer, staring for hours at status updates and pictures.  It was depressing in some ways, but I just couldn't stop.  I knew that this was not how I was supposed to be living my life, but I couldn't think of any reason to stop.  I didn't want to give it up completely, but I couldn't tear myself away from it.

Then, as Lent approached, and I was trying to determine what to sacrifice, I saw (somewhat ironically) a post on Facebook from someone saying she was giving up Facebook for Lent.  Suddenly I realized that I could do this!  This would be the perfect thing to sacrifice.  I needed something to tear me away from the computer, but I didn't want to be torn away forever.  Lent was a perfect excuse.  I'd be torn away for 40 days, and in that time I'd work on bettering myself.  At the end of 40 days, I hope to not be as drawn to Facebook or Pinterest (or the internet in general).  I hope it ends up being like it was when I gave up soda.  I'll have it every now and then, but not a lot.

All that said, there are two clarifications that Hans and I discussed last night.  1) Hans will go on Facebook once a week for me to make sure no one has posted on my wall and to tell them how to get in touch with me if they have.  He said he wouldn't tell anyone if I hopped on myself for 30 minutes each Sunday (technically not part of Lent), but I really didn't want that.  2) I am allowed to post pictures from my cell phone to my business page.  I can also post interesting articles to my business page.  I can't let the business go dormant for 6 weeks.  It may have much less activity, but it won't be completely dormant.  Oh, and as Hans reminded me, my blog shows up on Facebook, so I'm not completely invisible!

Anyway, here's to 6 weeks of bettering myself!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Beginning of Lent

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday, the end of Ordinary Time and the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  Traditionally, Fat Tuesday is the day to eat as much as possible in preparation for the fasting of Lent.  In my world, Fat Tuesday has traditionally been a day to eat as much chocolate and pancakes as possible.  This year, I wanted to do things a little differently.

I knew I was not going to gorge myself on chocolate.  I had a hot chocolate on Sunday, and that made me ill, so a large amount of candy was not in my plans.  However, the pancakes were a must.  They really are tradition, and I was hell bent on having some.  So, off Mom and I went to IHOP for some tasty pancakes. 

I wanted more than a short stack, but I wasn't sure what I wanted exactly.  I had been craving Nutella french toast all day, and I was exuberant when I saw that they had Nutella and banana stuffed crepes.  My mouth watered, and I knew exactly what I was going to order.  Still, though, I thought it best to look at the menu some more, and that's when something odd happened.  I saw the description for the Hearty Grains pancakes and my desire for Nutella lessened.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted the whole grains.  It didn't take any convincing.  I didn't have to say, "These are healthier and I should eat them even though I really want the Nutella."  I simply didn't want the Nutella.  The pancakes I did have still weren't that healthy (considering I added whipped cream and apple compote  and lots of syrup), but they were better than the Nutella crepes, so I felt good. 

I did end up eating a lot yesterday, and most of meals were huge, but that's because I'm a traditional gal.  ;)  I also went to the gym, and I'm going back today.

Oh, and today is Ash Wednesday.  It's a day for prayer and reflection, and it's the beginning of Lent.  I'm making a big sacrifice (for me) for Lent.  I'm giving up Facebook and Pinterest.  I'm way too addicted to those to sites, and I'm wasting a lot of time on them.  Giving them up is definitely for the best.  Is anyone else giving up anything??

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pet Expo 2012

Yesterday, was a flurry of activity.  Hans and I were up by 5:30 a.m. and at work by 7:00 a.m.  We were setting up for Pet Expo 2012.  Pet Expo has always been a fun and exhausting event, and I still love it after 3 years.  This year, I had a lot of clients come by to say hi, and their dogs were really having a blast. 

By the end of the day, though, I was thoroughly pooped!  Even today, while I still kept fairly busy, I'm ready for an early bed time.  Anyway, I'll keep this simple.  The pictures really say it all!

A year ago, this event would have been too much for Sydney to handle.  This year, it was a lot to take in, but she did very well!
Lollie spent  most of the time hiding in a crate behind the toys, but before things got busy she had a moment to look around.
Buddha and Stanley are staying very focused on their mom and dad!
After passing his therapy dog test, Kai came to Pet Expo to celebrate and thank his trainer!
Boudreaux is still in training, but is doing so well.  His biggest problem?  He loves to jump and give his trainer big hugs!  That's OK, though.  I love those hugs!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lil' Tidbits

Hello all!  I have a lot running through my mind, so I thought I'd share a few tidbits and updates with you.

*I have a hard time working when it's cold.  I have an even harder time working when it's raining.  All I want to do is curl under the covers and sleep!

*Pet Expo is this weekend.  It's a huge fundraising event for Henrico Humane Society, and it's a lot of fun.  I'll be one of the vendors, so it's also a lot of work, and I've been busy sorting inventory and what not.  Still, though, I'm super-excited!

*I went out to dinner with some girlfriends last night (something I rarely do anymore because of money and health concerns).  I came to the realization that the Mexican restaurant we went to has absolutely no healthy options.  Even their salads are loaded with things like sour cream and refried beans and are served in fried bowls.  Fajitas were the best option, and I only ate half.

*I am still thoroughly enjoying my swimming.  I'm varying my workouts, though.  Some are really hard and others are fairly easy, but the end result is what I'm looking for.  My pants are looser and I'm more comfortable.

*I'm still really missing running.  I find I'm tempted more than a few times a week to just throw on the running shoes and head out.  Sigh!

*The knee hasn't been bothering me as much this week.  Last week was actually pretty bad, but this week I'm feeling really good.  It did start to hurt this morning, but as I was shaving my legs in the shower I heard a pop, and everything has been hunky-dorey since then.  I'm not actually sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm not really going to worry until it starts to hurt again.

*Poor Lollie has been having sympathy pains!  She started to limp last week, and after looking her over we figured it was simply that she had licked a paw raw (she licks when she's nervous and last week was stressful).  I bandaged her up, and things seemed better with the bandage on.  However, after a week of little to no improvement, I stopped by the vet to see if they could quick check her out (another reason it's important to have a great reputation with your vet).  They couldn't really feel anything, but her knee did pop (I'm telling you the similarities are freaky), and she seemed a little tender.  So, she's on pain meds now, and they seem to be working.  She hasn't limped since yesterday.

*I'm thrilled that all 6 dogs in the house are starting to figure out the routine and the rules of the house.  It makes life a lot easier.  Oh, and they like to sleep on rainy days too!

*I am ever-so-happy to have Hans in my life.  He treated to me a sweet St. Valentine's Day, and he's been very helpful around the house.  He even makes sure I make it to the gym as often as possible because he knows I'm cranky if I don't go.  This sometimes means he's waking up super-early so he can go with me.  What a guy!

Well, there you have.  Some of my many thoughts.  I hope you're doing well!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do I Really Want to Carry That?

I had a lesson on Saturday with a great client.  Her dog responds well, and she is really good about observing her dog on a regular basis.  That's not why I'm mentioning her, though.  On Saturday, somehow we got on the topic of healthy living.  We were talking about cutting processed foods and choosing the best food to fuel your body.  Somewhere in the conversation she mentioned that she used to ride a bike on a regular basis (100+ miles / week), and one thing in particular she said struck me.

"I would look at a cookie or cake and think, 'Do I really want to have to carry that up a hill?'"

It seems so simple, but for some reason I hadn't though of it.  Basically, she didn't look at a cookie as one, harmless cookie.  She looked at a cookie as an additional weight on her butt, something that would make her less comfortable, slower, and heavier.  When she really wanted a cookie, she thought about biking up a hill, and that was generally enough to stop her from eating the cookie.

I'm not saying this is the way to be ALL the time, but I think it's a great trick for the most part, so yesterday I tried it.  Hans was working all day yesterday, so Dad took me out for lunch after church.  The restaurant that we went to is one of my favorites.  They're dishes are delicious, and they're servings are huge.  I had already decided that I would not get my absolute favorite dish there, the French Toast Foster (basically think candied bread for breakfast with fruit added to make it seem healthy), but other than that I had no idea what I wanted.  I looked at the menu, and many things popped out at me: A chicken salad wrap (not nutritiously terrible, but could be better), the sailor sandwich (terrible nutrition), the eggs Benedict (that Hollandaise is to die for), but I took a moment to think it over.  I thought, "Do you really want to have to carry that up the hill (or through the water)?"  Next thing I knew, I was turning my attention to the salads.

I'm generally not a fan of salads.  I find them boring and tedious to eat, and if all the salads at this restaurant had been made with iceberg lettuce I wouldn't have given them a second glance (I like iceberg, but again it's boring).  Instead, I was quite pleased to see that all the salads were made with mixed greens...pretty good nutritionally and a little bit of zest.  So, after some deliberation I ended up ordering the Asian Chicken Salad.

with teriyaki chicken, water chesnuts, mandarin oranges, wonton noodles, cucumber and tomato over mixed greens dressedwith sesame ginger vinaigrette 

It was just what the doctor ordered.  It was lovely, but I didn't finish it all.  It was huge and filling, and I just didn't have the space in my belly.  Oh, and the only thing I would change about it next time?  I'd order the dressing on the side!

By using that little trick, by taking a moment to consider what I really wanted for my body instead of what looked good, I chose a healthier decision.  Sure, the salad probably could have been more nutritious (less dressing, no noodles, etc), but at least I left the restaurant knowing I got all my veggies in for the meal.  I didn't feel guilty for eating a fat-laden meal with absolutely no nutritional value, and that feeling can't be beat.  So, on that note, it's off to the pool with me!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lollie Continues to Improve

Ippa and Lollie posing for a picture.  I love how they both look like Scottish superheros!
Lollie has been in our house since October and has officially been ours since December.  I am amazed at how much she has continued to improve. 

Every night, Lollie and Cody are invited on our bed.  While Cody sleeps at our feet, Lollie generally chooses to snuggle up right next to me.  If she's particularly cold, she'll squeeze between Hans and me for added warmth.  When she first arrived, she could not even look at us without shaking.

Most mornings, Hans and I are greeted by two happy dogs.  Generally, Cody will crawl up to our heads (and I do mean crawl) and give us kisses.  As soon as Lollie sees this, she gets really excited.  Her tail wags, she kisses Cody, and she gives us love nibbles. 

Lollie has had three vet visits since she first came here.  At the first, she shook before we even got in the door.  She wouldn't look at anyone or anything, and it left her shaken for days.  At the second, she went in fairly confident, and took treats at first, but by the time we made it back to an exam room, she was shaking again.  At third, she clearly wasn't thrilled to be there, but there wasn't any shaking.  Plus, she allowed people to pet her, and even that didn't elicit tremors.  She's so brave!

Lollie is one of the few dogs in my house that I haven't had to work on much with training.  She knows a sit and a down, but she hasn't needed much past that.  Unless she has to potty, she will generally stay near me or Cody on a walk, and her off-leash control is really improving.  I'm now willing to drop her leash when we're on a walk and I'll let her run a little ahead.  As soon as I say her name, she turns around and comes back (save for one time at the river when drinking water was more important).  Of course, this is great because it means she gets to play with the other dogs when we're hiking!
Lollie, Cody, Ollie, and Ippa romping through a field.
Oh, and lastly, her separation anxiety is improving.  She still hates being left alone, and we're still crating her, but as time goes on she's eliminating and drooling less and less.

Of course, she still has an occasional bad day, and her bad allergies definitely affect her.  Ear infections leave her very cranky, so we are constantly cleaning her ears.  Lollie doesn't like the cold, so we invested in a wonderful coat.  She even has doggy acne, so we have to regularly clean and check her face.  Still, will all these things affecting her, her good days are outweighing the bad.

I really do love watching her become a normal dog!

Friday, February 10, 2012


Politics and religion are not something I generally talk about on this blog.  I avoid them for a few reasons.  1) I'll admit I'm not the most knowledgeable person on these subjects.  I follow the news to some extent, and I have a general idea of what's happening in the world, but I don't study each and every subject matter.  2) Those are very volatile subjects right now, and I try to keep things nice.  However, I've heard a few things lately, and I want to address them.

Gay Rights
Let me start by saying I have many homosexual friends.  Here's the thing, though.  I don't call them "my gay friend, so and so."  And when I think of them, I remember the good times we have together.  I do not think of their sexual relations, just like I don't think of my straight friends sexual relations.  Oh, and I don't worry about my female friends hitting on me or falling in love with me.  I wasn't always this way.  I was raised (and still am) Catholic (with a capital C).  I still remember the first time I realized one of my friends was gay.  I'd known him for a few months and harbored quite a strong crush.  I remembered telling him "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."  Homosexuality did not exist in my world, and my world was shattered upon meeting this friend (actually, homosexuality did exist, but I never noticed it).

Over the years, my views on homosexuality have been conflicting.  I was raised that being gay was a sin.  A huge insult was, "That's so gay!"  I wasn't going to change overnight.  I did, however, stop preaching against homosexuality.  I started to friend people even though I knew they were gay, and I stopped saying things like, "Oh so and so, he's gay you know."  A person's sexual preferences didn't matter to me.  I still like to hone my gaydar to some extent (and I'm terrible at it), but I started to realize it didn't matter if the person was gay or not.  I wasn't going to treat that person any differently.

So, when homosexuality comes up in politics, my one thought is, "What business is it of yours?!"  Even if you think homosexuality is evil or disgusting or offensive, what business do you have telling other people how they should feel?  Why do you care if homosexuals get married?  Why do you care if they have the same benefits as married couples?  They're people just like you and me.

Oh and if you truly believe the phrase I learned growing up (and hate now), "Love the sinner, hate the sin" then you'd love those people entirely.  You wouldn't condemn them to hell (who gave you that power anyway?)  You wouldn't murder them, and you certainly wouldn't treat them so poorly that many are driven to commit suicide.  That is not love by any means.  Get over your God-complex, and start treating these people as your equals.

Women's Rights
This one is a bit trickier.  I abhor abortion.  I do view a fetus as a life.  I do view abortion as murder.  I do feel that no woman should ever have an abortion, and I feel that way even if that woman was raped, or if the child is deformed, or if the pregnancy is risky.  Abortion is wrong.  Period.

Here's where it gets confusing, though.  I don't think abortion should be made illegal.  Making it illegal will not change how other women feel about abortions, nor will it stop abortions.  Rather, it will only make abortions riskier and more women will be made ill or killed simply because they had to hide hat they were doing (watch Revolutionary Road for an idea of what I'm talking about).    I think abortions should be harder to get.  I think more should be done to teach women about alternate options and contraception to avoid the problem in the first place.  If I could, I'd change every woman's mind about abortion, but I can't, and I recognize that the laws can't either.

Contraception, on the other hand, I whole-heartedly believe in.  I've learned about Natural Family Planning from the Catholic Church, but I also spent my entire youth hearing about the multiple different ways in which a woman can get pregnant.  I've heard everything short of "kissing will get you pregnant," and now they want me to believe I can have sex unprotected and I'm fine!?  Yeah, I'm not buying it.  So, I have two options.  I can either tell my loving husband of 5 years that we are not going to have marital relations until we are ready to conceive a child, or I can buy birth control.  Guess which one I'm going with?  Anyone who disagrees with this is an idiot, in my opinion.

I know nothing about economics, it's true.  I have my opinions on economics, but I am not even going to get into what those opinions are except to say one thing.

While discussing the issues of the upcoming election, most of what I've heard from the people closest to me has been solely about the economy.  After getting sick of discussions of economics, I ask people their opinions on gay rights and women's rights.  From many people, I've heard similar viewpoints to mine (basically, they'd vote in favor of gay rights and women rights).  Then I ask the question of how they can be thinking about a certain candidate if they feel this way.  The answer I get is always the same: The economy is more important.  And this is where I get angry.

I don't care how bad the economy is.  Money is NEVER more important than basic human rights (or animal rights for that matter).  Maybe if these two issues weren't such a hot topic right now, I could understand, but that's not the case.  Homosexuality, women, and money are all that's being discussed right now.  Money will never trump the first two.

Well, there you have it.  If you disagree, feel free to let me know, but I had to put this out there.  Thanks for reading!

Just Keep Swimming

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

That seems to be my motto as of late.  Just keep swimming.  Dori from Finding Nemo said it first, and it didn't strike me at the time, but I find myself repeating over in many different situations.  I've said it to myself when things seem rough or difficult to get through.  I've said it to my SIL as she's going through her weight-loss journey.  I've said it to my mom and husband and dad on many different occasions.

Lately, though, this little motto of mine has taken on a more literal meaning.  Since I'm unable to run, and biking just hasn't been as appealing to me (I like to bike outside, but it's been cold), and I want to keep up my cardio, I've been swimming...a lot.

I've been trying to get to the gym 4-5 times a week, and I've really been enjoying the pool.  It doesn't hurt my knee, but I can definitely feel that I've been working hard.  Each time I hop in the pool, I make it my goal to swim at least a mile plus a cool down.  It may not seem like much to some people, but for someone who, save for a few weeks this past summer, hasn't done any serious swimming since she was 12, this is a big deal.  So far, I getting about 1800 meters (200 more than a mile) in about 45-50 minutes, so not too bad.

Still, though, I'm working to improve.  I want to go farther, faster, and be less tired at the end.  My current routine involves 2 laps breast, 2 laps free, and 2 laps back.  I repeat this 11 times, and then I finish with 2 easy laps of breast.  Today, I decided to change things up a bit, so I made this 2 laps breast, 3 laps free, 1 lap back.  I went faster overall, but boy was I exhausted, and by my 11th set I pretty much did all breast.

Anyway, the point in all this is that I've found something that I'm enjoying.  It's not perfect, because I still wish I could go out for a run, or do some jumping jacks, or even a squat.  In the mean time, though, I'm going to just keep swimming.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


This winter has been a beautiful one to say the least.  With temperatures averaging in the 50s and plenty days in the 60s and 70s, my bout with SAD has been fairly mild.  That said, there's one thing about the beautiful weather that is making me miserable.

I want to run, and I can't.

Ok, so I technically CAN, but I've been advised not to until my knee is completely pain free when doing a number of exercises.  I'm pretty sure it won't be long, but I'm not there yet, and it's driving me nuts!  I'll drive through the city and see dozens of people running, many with their dogs, and I long to be one of them.  I'd give almost anything to throw on my running shorts and head out there with all the lovely people.  I'd love to jog to Hans' work again or greet the morning with my sneakers on.  Alas, I am not allowed to.

Another frustrating aspect of all this is that I had a lot of plans for this year.  Last summer, as I was training for a 10k, I was looking forward to all the races I was going to run.  I wanted to do the Monument Ave 10k and the SGHS 5k and the Dominion Riverrock Filthy 5k Mud Run (ok, that one's still an option at this point), but those are out either because I won't be healed by then or because I won't have time to train for them.  Sure, I could walk them, but where's the fun in that?

Cody is missing his running too.  He always enjoyed the time just with, and the exercise did him well.  He was calmer and friendlier, and he seemed to sleep much better too.

Basically, this no running thing STINKS!  It's maddening and frustrating and a complete pain in the a**.  It is, however, the way life is.  In the mean time, I really need to step up my cycling and swimming, and I need to focus on my exercises to get better.  There's no reason why I should lose all that endurance I built up just because I can't run.

I plan on coming back stronger and faster and better than ever!!!

Until then, wish me luck!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Death of a Chocolate Lover

Last night, Hans and I had my best friend, Jess, and her husband over for dinner.  We had a lovely meal of turkey burgers, mashed potatoes, and peas (or green beans for the guys who don't like peas).  After dinner, it was time for dessert, and I offered my old stand by of a popsicle, but everyone was too cold.  That's when I remembered that I had a gift for Jess that I had forgotten to give to her...a big box of chocolates.

Out came the chocolates just in time for dessert.  Jess commented that she'd had some of these at work and they were delicious.  Hans said they looked delicious because they weren't all chocolate (many of them were chocolate-covered crisps).  I thought they looked great because one of them had coconut.  So, after some brief deliberation, I decided to give that coconut-sprinkled on a shot.


It wasn't that the chocolates were poorly made, and its certainly wasn't the coconut.  They were just so sweet!  My mouth puckered a bit, and my stomach flipped.  This was not something I wanted to continue eating.  So, I had about half of a crisp and I gave the rest to Cody (it was fairly small to begin with, so this really wasn't a lot).  Then, just to get the taste of dark chocolate out of my mouth (something I used to do backflips for), I reached for my fruit popsicle and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

I have to say, this is a great thing.  It doesn't mean I don't ever crave sweets, but why would I want them when they taste like that to me?  I'm really enjoying this little to no sugar thing.  I feel great, I'm getting stuff done, and I think I look better (my eyes are bluer anyway).  It's been one month now.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the year holds!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Am Not the Internet

Ok, guys, let me talk to you about something that has been bugging me for a while.  It's the reason I avoid crowded times at the dog park, and the reason I don't wear shirts with my logo all the time.  It's the reason I spend most of my time with my dogs alone or with friends who know better.  What is it, you ask?  It's people treating me like a free resource.  Let me give you an example of a conversation I have almost daily:

Person I meet: Oh, you're a dog trainer?  That's so cool!  I have Lab.  She's almost a year now.

Me: Is that so?  I bet she's really cute.

Person: Oh, she is!  She can be a handful sometimes too, though.

Me: Oh, young Labs can be that way.  Here, let me give you my card.  If you'd like, we can set up a time where I can meet her and we can talk about some things that could help you out.

Person: You know, she won't stop jumping up (chewing, peeing, getting on furniture, etc.).  What should I do about that?  I've tried everything!

Here's the thing.  First of all, you haven't tried EVERYTHING.  In fact, most owners probably haven't tried half the things out there.  Do you know how I know you haven't tried EVERYTHING?  You HAVEN'T HIRED ME!

Second of all, I haven't met your dog.  I have no idea how her life is with you.  There could be a thousand different reasons for why she's acting the way she does, and until I've met her I'm only taking a shot in the dark.  I do offer a free consultation, so please feel free to call me and set up a time.

Third, I understand that this brief conversation is like a mini-interview for me.  You're looking for help, and if my advice is any good, you may just give me a call in the future.  However, more often than not, you've heard this advice before.  You've tried ignoring your dog, or correcting your dog, or giving your dog a command.  Here's the catch, though.  You're not a dog trainer.  You may love your dog, and you may be a pretty decent owner, but you don't know everything (not even about your dog).  You trying something is different from me trying something.  Often, the way I act is reflected in a dog's reaction towards me.  I hear on a regular basis (twice yesterday) that a dog I'm meeting for the first time is surprisingly calm towards me.  "For most people, Fluffy would be jumping all over the place and barking.  It's amazing that she's just sitting and watching you" is something I hear a lot.  Before you assume that you've done everything I'm recommending and it didn't work, why don't you watch a pro.

Lastly, I love my job.  I love being able to work with my dogs every day.  I LOVE coming home to a house full of dogs and sleeping in a bed filled with dogs (and cats).  It's my world.  However, it can also be exhausting.  It is still work.  Sometimes I just need a break.  Also notice that just about everything I love about my job involves working with dogs, not just telling someone else how to work with them.  When I'm on a trail walk, or at Target, or getting my oil changed, or eating dinner, please do not interrupt me to ask me questions about your dog.  Please do not interrupt my time with my dogs (who, like children, need some one-on-one time), or my shopping spree, or my reading time, or my time with friends and family so that I may immediately solve your problem.

So, what should you do?  Well, I am more than happy if you interrupt me to ask for a card.  A brief mention of the problem is fine too, but wait until I've met your dog to explain it in detail.  If you have no intention of hiring a trainer, look it up online or go to the library / book store.  There are a lot of really great resources out there, and plenty of people have spent a lot of time making sure they're easy to understand.  Take advantage of that.  Oh, and avoid asking me my rates right then and there.  Again, wait for the consultation.  I will be better able to assess the situation and let you know what course option is best for you after I've seen your lifestyle, and the price won't seem as high when I'm sitting in your living room telling your dog to sit with me.

Oh, and if you're a friend or family member, and we happen to be out together (say, at the dog park), please let me keep my anonymity.  If it comes up, you can mention I'm a trainer, but I don't need you to be my advertising campaign.  I really do appreciate the gesture, and I know you mean well, but let me have my time away from work.  If you really want to spread my name around town, carry some of my business cards and hand them out.  The people who are serious about calling me will, and the people who just want free advice will leave me alone.

Thank you!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Off Day

Today is an off day.  It is definitely an off day.  Luckily, I know everything that is factoring into, and I'm going to make it better.  So, let's evaluate:

The day started off well with a bike ride and a trip to the physical therapist for my knee (more on that later).  However, I was extremely tired, and I mean really, really, REALLY tired.  Yesterday had been a long day with about 15 hours of straight work, so today I was wiped.

When I got home from PT, I should have gone straight to bed, but I was also hungry, so I grabbed some lunch.

Error #1: Grabbing the wrong thing to eat.
Last night, Hans and I decided to purchase some pre-made ravioli (mine was stuffed with crab).  It wasn't as great as what I'd thought it be last night, but I figured I was just too pooped to notice how good it actually was.  For lunch, I SHOULD have fixed up some of the spaghetti I made a couple of days ago (with a really great red sauce), but instead I went back for the ravioli.  It was not so great, and it left me wanting more.

Error #2: Not going straight to bed after lunch.
Heck, with as tired as I was, I almost feel I should have eaten lunch in bed so I could have conked right out.  Instead, I ate on the couch (not the table which would have been the best option).  I watched t.v. instead of sleeping, so my sleep problem didn't go away.  While I did get a brief nap, it wasn't near enough.  On top of that, my lack of sleep and poor lunch led me to crave snacks.

Error #3: Actually eating the snacks.
Ok, I could have done a lot worse here, but I also could have done better.  I had a lot of carrots, and that's good, but I also could have skipped the pretzels and the peanut bar.  I didn't even really want them, but I was hungry and I couldn't think of something else to eat that wouldn't require a lot of prep.  Of course, I'm just now realizing that I could have grabbed an apple or banana or orange or celery with almond butter or raisins.  There's lots of stuff to eat, but that was right in front of me, so I failed.

I'll be completely honest here and tell you that I kind of felt today coming on.  I could feel my body wearing down, and I knew I would have to work really hard to keep it fueled and not burn out.  Unfortunately, one long day really took its toll, and I was not prepared to deal with it.  That's OK, though.  An error is not a mistake until you refuse to correct it.  So, I'm not waiting until tomorrow to fix it.  I'm fixing it today.  Dinner will be better.  Sleep will come earlier.  Tonight will end better and tomorrow will start better.  Oh, and I'm looking forward to it.

Physical Therapy
I do want to touch on my first meeting with my physical therapist before I sign off here.  It was fun!  I was reminded of a lot of things I already knew but had definitely forgotten (like the IT band's role in knee pain).  I've been given a few fun exercises (aka exhausting) to help strengthen and stretch my hips, and I have more appointments set up.  I've been told I shouldn't run at all for a while (BOO!), but biking and swimming are fine, so I guess I'm thrilled that it's warmer out.

I do have to say, it's really fun learning so much about my body.  I'm pretty sure that if I took all the x-rays I've had over the past few years I'd probably have a life-size person, and I think that's cool.  It's just really interesting, though, to see how things interact and play together.  Here's to learning more, and bettering myself!